Those who’ve been here before will know how fond we are of HUSS Magic rides. The combination of fast motions, floaty airtime and constant changes of direction allow Magic to hit that sweet spot right between being thrilling and sickening.
Designed in 1989, the Huss Magic comprises of 12 – 4 seater spinning cars suspended at the ends of four spinning radial arms, which are in turn attached to four more spinning arms.. yes, this ride spins a lot.
As the ride begins the two sets of arms spin in opposite directions creating a sizzler-twist like motion. As the speed increases the operator can then angle the centre of the ride, causing the four arms to raise up and down in a wave-like motion. The motion is not too dissimilar to that of a Polyp, however the added weight and angle of the cars here make Magic’s ride experience feel somewhat more forceful.
Circus Circus was built in the birth year of Magic, 1989, making it almost 30 years old now. Despite this, you’d be forgiven for thinking the ride was brand new – it is immaculate. Owner Thomas Gründler (Germany) is to be commended for the efforts he has put into maintaining this beautiful machine, which has had a full refurbishment in winter 2017-2018. The works which were carried out by SAD Maschinenbau Gmbh not only ensured the mechanical wellbeing of the ride but also the superficial appearance, with an extensive repaint taking place.
This alone would be enough to crown Circus Circus as the number 1 Magic ride, but the show doesn’t stop there. Circus Circus is consistently operated to fully exploit the capabilities of the HUSS machine. The rider experience is fast, thrilling and forceful thanks to the manual controls which are used to ensure no two rides are the same.
Where can you ride it? Well, normally the answer would be Germany.. however.. Circus Circus will be making its way to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland (London) 2018 and I highly recommend you visit and give it a go. But if you can’t wait that long then check out our full on-ride video below!
Thrill seekers are in for a treat this summer as three of the UK’s tallest thrill rides take residence at the Liverpool Pier Head Village.
Running from 30th June to 10th September, the Pier Head Village is dubbed as a “summer festival to remember”. Whilst we were naturally drawn in by the rides, the event also boasts live entertainment, food and drink, an urban beach and much more.
The event is beautifully located at the Pier Head, offering some incredible views to those brave enough to take on the tallest rides. These are the UK Power Tower, Around the World and Mach 5. Alongside these are a selection of family rides and inflatables, as well as the brilliant “Das Fun Schiff” pirate ship.
An event that is well worth a visit this summer. Rides are accessed via a token system, with the big rides costing between £5 and £10 a go. More information can be found on the Pier Head Village website.
For the first time in UK fair history, an English showman has purchased a Maurer Power Tower ride. We went over to Liverpool to check it out on its opening day.
Built by German firm Maurer, the Power Tower is somewhat iconic amongst fairground enthusiasts. This is largely thanks to Ewald Schneider of Germany who famously travelled Power Tower 1 and then Power Tower 2, the latter of which has visited the UK in the past for the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
What makes the Maurer towers special is the fact that unlike a ‘true’ free fall tower where the car is released and dropped, the car is instead attached to the pulley system even when it is dropping, allowing the ride to run long sequences with drops from different heights, pauses and fast upward travel.
This is the first time an English showman has ever owned a tower ride of this type. Bought by Peter Sedgwick Jnr, the ride will spend Summer 2017 at the Liverpool Pier Head Village.
Prior to its arrival in the UK, the Power Tower spent its early life in Germany. It was originally built in 1998 for German showman Kinzler, who travelled it under the name Freifall Turm, sporting an all-blue painted tower with yellow lights. In 2003 the ride changed hands and became known as the Action Tower whilst travelling under the ownership of Kipp. This lasted until 2007 when the Tower went back to Maurer, was refurbished, and then put into storage until today.
It has to be said that this really is a fantastic addition to the UK fair scene. The ride really does look big and imposing when stood in front of it – pictures don’t do the 55m height justice! It is also very well presented with a clean and fresh looking paint job. And of course, the ride experience itself is brilliant – riders were being treated to up to 9 drops per-cycle during our visit.
The Liverpool Pier Head Village is open from 30th June – 10th September 2017. Entry is free. More details can be found on their website.
Thrill seekers are in for a treat as Zip World Fforest open the UK’s only Alpine Coaster.
It’s called the Fforest Coaster. And no, that’s not a typo. The one-of-a-kind downhill adventure is located in Wales, where one F just isn’t enough! Lets start by taking a ride.
Just like a traditional roller coaster, the Fforest Coaster starts with a powered lift hill which drags riders to the top of the course. The similarities end when the ‘sleds’ that the passengers sit in reach the peak and begin their downward decent. Unlike a normal rollercoaster where riders have no input, each sled on the Fforest coaster has its own manual braking system. This allows the rider to control the speed of the ride.
The Fforest coaster comes from German firm Wiegand, who’ve been responsible for many Alpine Coasters all over the world. You’ll notice that we’ve (awkwardly) worded the title of this post to state that Zip World’s ride is the UK’s only Alpine Coaster and not the UK’s first. This is because we did used to have a similar Alpine Coaster in Stoke-On-Trent. Located at Stoke Ski Slope, the ride operated between 2003 and 2007 and was around 425 meters long.
Zip World’s new coaster is over twice this length, featuring a 365 m upward lift (split into two sections) and a 710 m downhill slalom through the trees. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty tiny when you compare it to some of the German alpine coasters located on the side of mountains, but it’s still long enough to pick up a bit of speed and feel like you’ve gone on a bit of an adventure. Take a look at the layout shown in the planning document below;
The ride lasts for around 6 minutes, during which riders can reach speeds of up to a limited 25mph.
You read that correctly. The FForest coaster’s top speed is restricted to 25mph. Not gunna lie, this came as a massive disappointment. After all, Alpine Coasters are known specifically for the fact that you can ride them without using the brakes, reaching blistering speeds, all the way down the hill, whilst recording an onride video for YouTube entitled “CRAZY alpine coaster with NO BRAKES! Absolutely INSANE!”, which will then go viral and make the poster thousands in Ad Revenue. Soz Theme Park Review.
Jokes aside, it is 2017 and Health & Safety is definitely “a thing” now, so it doesn’t really come as a surprise. In fact the way in which the speeds are monitored and controlled is actually surprisingly advanced and rather interesting. Allow this diagram to explain;
Named the “Driver’s Assistance system”, it relies on magnetic eddy-current technology working in harmony with electronic sensors and control system. When the sled reaches 25mph the system automatically kicks in to slow it down. As well as limiting speed, the system acts as a spacer and ensures that all of the sleds are at least 25meters apart from each other at all times during the decent. This does unfortunately mean that if the person in front of you is a pansy and braking all the way down your sled will automatically be slowed down too.
There’s no denying that it detracts from the overall ride experience, however the safety benefits probably outweigh the lack of speed. Coupled with this, the cost of maintenance is likely to be less as magnetic brakes are non-contact and require less maintaining than traditional friction brakes.
But lets not get bogged down by the speed, the Fforest coaster is awesome! We really are lucky to have an Alpine Coaster of this length and quality in the UK. The setting couldn’t really be any better, with the track weaving in and out of the trees throughout the ride – the only obvious comment to make is “can we have another one that’s even longer?!”. With Zip World growing as quickly as it is and with multiple sites in Snowdonia, maybe we’ll have an answer to that question in the next few years!
It’s also definitely worth mentioning how friendly and accommodating the Zip World staff were, so thanks!
The Fforest coaster opened on 10th May and is located at Zip World Fforest, LL24 OHA. Riders must be 9 years old and 1.35 m or taller to ride unaccompanied. More details can be found on the official website.
After what feels like a decade of waiting, the new Exciter ride of Dane Crow has made its debut appearance at the Conisbrough Ticklecock Fair.
Known to the public as “Exciter”, the new ride comes from British manufacturers Tivoli. Tivoli are perhaps most known for their Orbiter and Extreme rides that are slowly beginning to saturate the UK fair scene – so this new innovation is certainly welcome.
New? Are you sure?
Those who are familiar with their funfairs will certainly see some familiarity in the design of the Exciter. Named by Tivoli as the ‘Warp 10’, Exciter is a modernised version of the ‘Force 10’ – or Tip Top – which was originally introduced in 1980.
Whilst largely similar to the Tip Top, the USP of Exciter comes in the form of its seating. Replacing the enclosed cars of the 80’s are modern ‘dangly-feet’ three-seater cars with a bonus party-trick hidden up their sleeves – the ability to tilt.
When the tilting feature was first rumoured there was quite a lot of excitement in the enthusiast community. People began to visualise a system similar to that of the Air rollercoaster at Alton Towers where riders lie fully on their fronts, creating the illusion of flight. But as the years went by, it became apparent that there was clearly a delay with the construction of Exciter – believed to be due to the implementation of these tilting seats.
It was therefore somewhat disappointing to find out that the seats actually only tilt about 40 degrees forwards and return to their upright position before the ride accelerates to its full speed. Ah well.
Debut event – Conisbrough Ticklecock Fair
The Exciter finally made its public debut at the Conisbrough Ticklecock Fair on 13th April 2017. So what do we think?
There’s no denying that the ride is presented in an immaculate condition, as is the case of most rides operated by the Crow family. On closer inspection the attention to detail becomes apparent – from the laser-cut designs on the perimeter fencing to the Disco Smash speakers fitted to the back of each of the 12 cars. The LED lighting package is stunning, however has lost some of the impact that it would have had if the ride made its debut when it was originally intended to, due to LED lighting becoming the norm across many of the country’s rides in the past 24 months.
Was it worth the wait?
To put it simply, not really. Whilst there’s no denying that Exciter is a solid addition to the UK fair industry, it just doesn’t really tick all the boxes for us. At the end of the day the ride experience is essentially spinning in an unbroken circle for 3 minutes, and therefore somewhat nauseating to ride. Whilst the tilting seats are a good idea in theory, at the moment they’re not being utilised very effectively and go largely unnoticed whilst on the ride. Take a look for yourself in the full onride cycle below:
BUT don’t just take our word for it. It seems to be a bit of a generation thing – having read many comments on the internet it would seem that Exciter has gone down a treat with the older generation who have fond memories of the original Tip Top. To this extent, Exciter should be a big success with all ages – the oldies who remember the original and the young’uns who’ve never seen one before and think it’s something new.
It’s worth remembering that it is the Crows that were responsible for the first ‘lifting twist’ (Cyclone), and they do have to be admired for their innovative foresight – even if the final products are a little odd. What next, a tilting carousel?!
We wish the Crows all the best with Exciter and look forward to seeing it over the course of 2017!
2016 has been an exciting year for new coasters in Europe. And whilst social media has been awash with photos and videos of the latest rides, the chances are that there was one that kept cropping up and catching your eye – TARON.
Located at Phantasialand, Brühl (that’s in Germany), Taron is a multi-launch coaster from Swiss manufacturer Intamin. Unlike the UK-based Intamin launch coasters Rita and Stealth, which are both hydraulically launched, Taron uses an LSM system to propel the trains twice during the ride. And with a maximum speed of 72.7mph, Taron is the world’s fastest multi-launch coaster!
Taron opened on 30th June 2016 as part of a new themed-world named Klugheim. Themed as a rocky basalt landscape with a rustic village at its heart, Klugheim also features a smaller (also new) coaster for the younger adventurers, Raik. This is a Vekoma Family Boomerang and, like everything else in Klugheim, features heavy theming.
Big statement, we know. And you don’t have to agree with it. Although it is hard to justify yourself if you don’t.
Taron is the full package. It’s not hard to find a coaster that is super thrilling and smooth. It’s also not hard to find a coaster with incredibly immersive theming. What is rare is to find one coaster that combines the two of these features into one fully coherent and immersive ride.
The ride experience itself is phantastic (see what we did there?). Intamin have done an incredible job with the layout and build, resulting in a smooth and comfortable ride with bucketloads of force and airtime. The trains are a new design to that of the old Intamin launchers and feature lap-bars and a raised seating position that will feel conveniently familiar to those who’ve previously ridden a MACK Mega Coaster such as Blue Fire or Helix.
Speaking of Helix…
Helix (at Liseberg, Sweden) seems to be the ride that everybody wants to compare to Taron. Whilst they’re both from different manufacturers, they do share the similarities of both being LSM Multi-launch coasters with similar trains and long layouts.
They’re both great rides for different reasons – Helix has the advantage of taking the riders on a real journey through the park as its layout sprawls from one side of Liseberg to the other, but the LSM launches are more gentle nudges than anything else. Conversely, Taron’s launches are really forceful but the ride has a very small footprint so you don’t get that same sense of going on a journey.
Just to confirm though, for us Taron is far superior to Helix. Just look at it!
We’re clearly not the only ones who love Taron. Check out the state of the overflow queue line during our visit.
The good news is it’s really easy to get to Phantasialand. Flights are often £9.99 each way with Ryanair from London Stansted to Cologne, with public transport taking you from the airport to the park in around about 90 minutes at a cost of £10(ish). Already ridden Taron? Let us know how it ranks for you in the comments below!
Hop on-board the crazy Ice Mountain rollercoaster at London’s Winter Wonderland. This spinning rollercoaster experience is sure to impress you as it navigates its way through a frozen cavern inhabited by (fibreglass) polar bears and penguins!
Now in its fourth incarnation, Ice Mountain first appeared at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland in November 2013. The spinning rollercoaster has travelled the UK with owner James Mellors since 2001, albeit without the building and winter theme.
More commonly known as Magic Mouse or Cyclone, Winter Wonderland is currently the only event at which the ride is enclosed in its Ice Mountain disguise.
Like a fine wine, Ice Mountain has certainly got better with age. It’s safe to say that its first year at Winter Wonderland, 2013, left many feeling short-changed. Apart from the external facade, there was absolutely no internal theming and the experience felt not too dissimilar from driving around a dark multi-storey car park.
With the intention of rivalling Hollenblitz, a (brilliant) indoor travelling coaster in Germany, Mr Mellors certainly had his work cut out to be able to return to Winter Wonderland for a second year with Ice Mountain. And thankfully he didn’t disappoint. 2014 saw the inside of Ice Mountain transformed into a fantastic dark-ride experience to rival many of the UK’s best (but do bear in mind that the UK doesn’t really have any good dark-rides).
Subtle changes each year have led to 2016’s Ice Mountain being the best incarnation to-date. As well as speeding past polar bears and penguins you can expect to see plenty of lighting effects, the ‘northern lights’ and a crazy disco section where the rollercoaster car itself spins and leaves you feeling suitably dizzy!
Ice Mountain is open at Winter Wonderland from 18th November 2016 until 2nd January 2017 – have you ridden it yet? Let us know below!
Ho Ho Ho. Christmas is drawing ever-nearer. With the inevitable stress of deciding which socks to buy for your most-hated loved ones, what better way to escape in to the festive spirit than by visiting Stoke’s new Winter Wonderland?! We’ve been along to take a look for ourselves.
Billed as “The Midlands’ spectacular Christmas destination“, Winter Wonderland Stoke is the first event of its kind to appear at the Birch Terrace car park in Hanley. It promises entertainment for the whole family, with activities including ice skating, spectacular rides, Bavarian food and live music.
On entering the site you’re instantly transported from the bleak familiarities of Stoke into a festive wonderland fit for the big-man himself. The smell of Bavarian sausage wafts up your nostrils, the jingle of Christmas tunes fills the air, and underfoot you are treated to a wooden-decked walkway to help you forget that you’re standing in a carpark in the middle of Winter.
It really is quite impressive. Undeterred by the rain, we were pleased to see a good turnout at the Wonderland, with the ice skating rink proving very popular – even on a week night.
Thrill-seekers are certainly in for a treat. Joining the 60 metre tall Sky Swing are the Airmaxx, No Limit and Super Bowl. For the families there’s the Crazy Mouse rollercoaster, the Sizzler and the Dodgems, amongst others.
Winter Wonderland Stoke is open from 17th November 2016 until 2nd January 2017. Entry is free, with ride tokens sold on-site. It is recommended that you book Ice Skating in advance to guarantee a slot.
Full details can be found on the official website.
Bright lights, festive music and the smell of German sausage fill the air as London’s Winter Wonderland returns for its 10th Anniversary. We went along to the preview evening to see what this year’s event has in store.
Nothing marks the start of Christmas better than the arrival of a festive German market and a bunch of seasonally decorated amusement rides. The Winter Wonderland has taken place in Hyde Park, London for 10 years now. And whilst the event has grown considerably from it’s routes as a Christmas market to the festive theme park of recent years, it has still managed to retain the magical charm that has been accountable for its success.
This year’s theme is strongly focussed on celebrating the tenth year of the event. From the moment you enter the site you’re instantly immersed into a Christmas wonderland that feels comfortably familiar yet strikingly different from the events of preceding years. Take a look around and you’ll notice a variety of new shows to entertain the family, new food and beverage outlets and spectacular new rides.
Thrill seekers are certainly in for a treat at this year’s Winter Wonderland. The Ice Mountain coaster, Star Flyer and The Hangover freefall tower have all returned for 2016 and make up some of the 100 rides and games in attendance. But this year’s show-stopper is undoubtedly the Munich Looping Rollercoaster. Occupying a plot measuring 87 x 39 metres, Munich Looping is the World’s largest transportable rollercoaster and features five vertical loops. It has become famous for its appearances at the Munich Oktoberfest since 1989, however this is the first time the ride has ever opened in the UK.
But maybe thrill rides aren’t your cup of mulled-wine. Well that’s OK, Winter Wonderland has something for you too. If the festive atmosphere and the constant fear of having a pram rammed into your ankles isn’t enough to get you in the mood, Hyde Park is offering a variety of shows to cater for all tastes.
Returning for 2016 are the UK’s largest outdoor Ice Rink, the Ice Kingdom and Zippos Circus. Joining them and new for this year are The Nutcracker on Ice, Cirque Berserk (from 7pm) and The Sooty Christmas show (11am daily). Booking is essential to guarantee entry, prices range from £7 – £18.95 per adult per show. Full details can be found on the official website.
What better way to warm up on a cold winter’s night than to head into a bar made of ice?! Bar Ice offers a sub-zero drinking experience where everything you see, from the tables through to the glass you drink out of, are all sculpted from ice. But don’t worry, as well as one free cocktail, the £15 entry fee also gets you a pair of gloves and a cloak to prevent frostbite.
Fans of more traditional methods of eating and drinking will love the Bavarian Village – a huge complex featuring indoor and outdoor seating, german entertainment and Bratwurst aplenty. Also new for 2016, a range of Winter Wonderland merchandise that can be purchased either on-site or online. Items include a cuddly polar bear and a branded wooly-hat.
2016 is set to be a fantastic year for Winter Wonderland. Whilst there are fewer rides than we saw at last year’s event, what we do have this year is of a remarkably high quality. The layout has again been tweaked and removes some of the dead-ends and bottle-necks of yesteryear. But don’t just take our word for it, check it out for yourself by watching our video!
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland runs from 18th November to 2nd January 2017. It’s open 10am – 10pm every day except Christmas day. Entry is free, no ticket required. You will however need a ticket for Ice Skating, The Magical Ice Kingdom, Nutcracker on Ice, Zippos Christmas Circus, Cirque Berserk, The Sooty Christmas Show, Giant Wheel and Bar Ice.
Ride tickets are all sold separately and available at ticket booths across the site. Contactless payment is available on Munich Looping, Wilde Maus XXL, Ice Mountain, Thriller and the Christmas Coaster.
The best way to get to the event is using Public Transport, the nearest tube stops are Bond Street, Green Park, Knightsbridge, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner.
More information can be found on the official website.
It was fun and thrills for all the family at the annual Loughborough fair last weekend. A part of Loughborough’s history for almost 800 years, what did 2016 have to offer?
The Loughborough Pleasure fair has been a highlight of the fairground calendar for showmen and enthusiasts alike for many years. Dating back to 1221, the fair has been a part of Loughborough’s history for 795 years.
Held in the town centre, the fair was traditionally confined to the Market Square. Over the years it has expanded to now cover most of the town, with the latest rides and attractions for the whole family to enjoy.
The 2016 funfair was held between 9th & 12th November. With our visit set for the final night (Saturday), there was some concern raised having read reports earlier in the week suggesting a lack of punters on the ground. Upon arrival we were therefore delighted to see the usual crowds of excited fair-goers enjoying the latest rides and attractions.
It is certainly worth mentioning one of the unexpected stars of the show this year – that being the Super Bowl ride of Darren Matthews. Located in the Granby Street carpark, it was riding full with a queue for most of the evening. Having ridden many-a-superbowl, we were frankly shocked to see it doing so well – so gave it a go ourselves! It didn’t disappoint, going down as the most enjoyable ride on a Super Bowl we’ve ever experienced.
Return of the Top Buzz
After a three year absence, the prime spot in Market Square was once again occupied by a Mondial Top Scan ride. This year’s attraction, named “Xtreme”, was presented by S&D Leisure Rides. The Xtreme was imported from Austria to make it’s UK debut earlier in 2016, and joins S&D’s “AtmosFear” – also at this years fair – in their thrill rides line-up.
Thrill-seekers were spoilt for choice, with the likes of Airmaxx, Mach 1 and the Freak Out all on the bill. For the families there’s the traditional Gallopers, Sizzlers and plenty of Juveniles for the little’uns.
Loughborough fair is one of the biggest street fairs in the UK. It is therefore not uncommon for their to be multiple rides of the same type in attendance. This year was no exception. Duplications for 2016 were; 2 Crazy Bulls, 2 Extremes and an Orbiter, 2 Miamis, 2 Gallopers, 2 Twists and 2 Rotors.
The atmosphere on the show ground was absolutely fantastic, and a delight to stand back and watch. Loughborough fair is not just for thrill seekers, instead offering something for all the family to enjoy. But don’t just take our word for it – check it out for yourself in our video below!
Join Hold Tight Riders & Ukrides.info on our epic European adventure through 3 countries, 3 funfairs and 7 theme parks! The trip took place in July 2016 and encompassed Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. We’ve done our best to cram as much as possible into 4 minutes of film, but rest assured there will be plenty of full length videos to come in the near future.
Includes Drivliet, Duinrell, Walibi Holland, Phantasialand, Walibi Belgium, Plopsaland, Bellewaerde, Dusseldorf Rheinkirmes, Tilburg Kermes, Duren Annakirmes and more!
Blackpool Pleasure Beach have become notorious for their early-season opening, allowing thrill seekers to enjoy the whole park over a month before the Theme Park season kicks off for the rest of the UK. From the 7th February to 20th March 2016 the park will be open at weekends, offering half price (£15) tickets when booked online in advance. We made a trip to Blackpool for the opening day, Sunday 7th March 2016.
Arriving at the park it quickly dawned on us that it was very windy and that this would surely affect ride availability (particularly the Big One) throughout the day. Not deterred by this we put our coats on and joined the disgustingly long queue to pick up the tickets that we’d already bought and paid for. If there’s one thing that we wish Pleasure Beach would improve upon it would be their ticketing system – it’s 2016 – why can’t we just print off our tickets at home and walk straight through the turnstiles? Flaming-o-land manages it very well!
Anyway. It’s always nice visiting a park on opening day as all the staff are still really enthusiastic and haven’t yet recieved their first pay cheque and realised how much of a struggle their year is going to be. The park is open from 11am – 5pm however the rides seem to open on a staggered basis based upon whenever the hell they can be arsed to get them going. – Yes this sounds sarcastic but it seems to work and helps get guests flowing around the park, and we love the whitty banterful charm of the way the park is run.
So the bit you all want to see – the missing bridge:
The Tom Sawyer Bridge has been a part of the park for as long as we can remember, and it’s demolition has sparked great speculation over whether or not a new coaster could be coming to the park in the near future. If rumours are to be believed we could be in for Mack Multi-Launch coaster similar to that of Blue Fire at Europa Park and Helix at Liseberg. If the park was to also remove the Grand Prix ride we’d have a massive space on our hands ready for something huge. Of course, there’s always the possibility that the bridge was just totally shagged after all these years and the only option was to remove it, but we’ll remain optimistic!
Time for some rides
Infusion. Love it or hate it, it’s the newest coaster at the park and it does offer something none of their other rides do, and is a fantastic place to eat a cheese sandwhich before going to Specsavers. We were pleased to see it running on two trains and with a really good dispatch rate.
Fast forward a bit, we managed to get on everything that was open and were having a great day. Even the Zipper Dipper Blue Flyer was riding well.
Now we should probably touch on a few of the rides that were not open. When we picked up our tickets we were told that Avatar Airbender, Spongbob’s Splash Battle and the Gallopers would not be operating. Unfortunately there were a few more to add to that list, including; The Big One, Steeplechase, Wild Mouse, Valhalla which were closed and Alice, Avalanche, Grand National, Big Dipper which all either broke down or opened late.
Yes, this is disappointing, but we must bare in mind that the park has a very short closed season to get the rides stripped and re-built, and a large factor was the high wind speeds, not to mention we only paid £15 to get in. On the off chance, we left a comment at Guest Services at the end of the day and ended up having our wristbands re-validated for a free return trip before 20th March. Fair play to PB, their customer service on the day was excellent.
A few more photos
All in all we had a fantastic day out. We love the traditional “what you see is what you get” feel of the park and that genuine sense of fun that the park conveys. The staff were certainly doing a great job and we left with free tickets for another day. Well done Blackpool!
Check out our video of the day and if you enjoy it, please share this post with your friends!
Winter always used to be a dull time for the UK attractions industry, with the country’s Theme Parks all closed and many other tourist attractions and funfairs all finished for the year. So when Winter Wonderland first opened it’s gates in December 2007 nobody could have predicted the impact it would have had on the industry.
Winter Wonderland has grown rapidly, in all senses – with each year seeing more rides, more attractions and more visitors. 2015 is no exception, and is infact the most notable shake up of the event in it’s history, with over 60 large attractions, 22 more than were present in 2014.
Situated in London’s iconic Hyde Park, Winter Wonderland boasts something for everybody, with plenty of Christmas spirit thrown in! From fairground rides to live shows, festive treats to ice skating, the event offers a huge range of entertainment all suited to the winter theme.
Whilst the event is very well dressed up, for us the heart of it will always be the fairground. With rides travelling to the event from all over Europe, this is surely the best funfair in the UK. Whilst the purists amongst you may be screaming “WHAT ABOUT HULL AND GOOSE?!” at your screens, we do firmly believe that Winter Wonderland is in a league of it’s own. Whilst Hull fair and Nottingham Goose fair are indeed incredibly large fairs in the UK calendar, they lack the coherant theme, enterainment, layout and presentation of the Hyde Park event. Oh, and did we mention that Eberhard’s AirWolf is there?!
Where else in the UK can you see a Mondial Inferno? Nowhere! This classic ride has instantly been a hit with the British public, most of whom have never seen a ride like it before. Other notable rides at this year’s event include Lagerin’s Huss Breakdance from Germany, Schneider’s new Hangover Freefall Tower, Hart’s Huss Top Spin, Mannings Capriolo 10 and Dotremont’s KMG XXL. Also new for this year is the world’s largest mobile ghost train – Daemonium.
There’s literally loads to see and do, too much to write about in one short article. Interestingly the Irvin family have actually purchased three brand new rides just for the event – these being a Waltzer, Extreme and Dodgems. Meanwhile, coaster fans are spoilt for choice with both Eberhard’s Wild Maus XXL and Mellor’s Ice Mountain – the world’s first entertaining Reverchon ride.
The good news is that you don’t need to pay to get in – you just pay for the attractions that you want to ride and/or experience. This means that you can bring Grandma along and she can happily toddle around the market stocking up on knitting needles whilst you’re busy shouting horrific swear words and pooing yourself 90 meters in the air on the Hangover tower. Prices are best described as “London prices” which roughly translates to “bloody expensive” , but hey, it’s Christmas – and it is worth it for the atmosphere alone.
Winter Wonderland runs from the 20th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016 and is open from 10am-10pm. Access is recommended via the Marble Arch tube station.
City Centre Big Wheels are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, particularly during the holiday season. Naturally, showmen are making the most of this opportunity, with more and more investing in these large rides. Abie Danter is one of the latest to purchase a wheel, with his being a 48 meter tall model from Bussink.
On first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking that the ride is brand new straight from the factory, however it was in fact manufactured 18 years ago, in 1997. Previous owners of this ride are Mueller of Germany and Bird of Ireland. The wheel was purchased by Danter Attractions in July 2015 where it went under extensive refurbishment, bringing the ride to a flawless standard with a spectacular colour changing lighting display – the first of it’s kind on an observation wheel in the UK.
If you’d like to see it for yourself then head to Centenary Square, Birmingham where it will be running alongside the German Christmas Market until early January 2016.
You may remember some time ago, (well, 3 months ago actually) we embarked on a massive crazy super awesome European Theme Park and Funfair trip. You may also have heard of the phrase “good things come to those who wait”? Well – thanks for waiting.
Here are some of the photos from our trip. Some of the videos are also online, in which case please follow the links. Stay tuned for more features and write-ups from our time away.
20th July 2015
Our first visit to Tilburg Kirmes.
21st July 2015
We visited Efteling (Nehterlands) to check out their new B&M Dive Coaster; Baron 1898.
21st July 2015
Following our day at Efteling we stopped off at the Uden Kirmes; an average sized fair with nothing particularly noteworthy at, still, it was good to see the Sound Machine.
22nd July 2015
This utterly bonkers German park is set in the site of a never used Nuclear Power Plant. The star attraction is a Starflyer ride inside a cooling tower. Entry is around 15 Euros and includes unlimited ice cream, chips and drinks!
22nd July 2015
Ask any coaster geek about Movie Park and 99% of the time they’ll tell you it’s a terrible park not worth bothering with. We ignored this advice and spent an afternoon there and actually really enjoyed it!! The coasters themselves are truly awful BUT the theming is fantastic and it was a nice immersive experience on the whole with some interesting attractions thrown in – notably an indoor rapids ride and a great Gerstlauer bobsled coaster in the dark.
23rd July 2015
The best advice we ever took was to visit Phantasialand. It is without doubt the most visually impressive park we’ve ever been to, with some incredible rides with plenty of “secret” elements. This album includes some construction pictures of their new for 2016 rollercoaster “Taron”.
24th and 25th July 2015
This is probably one of the most talked about German fairs by us UK Enthusiasts, so we were thrilled to finally visit ourselves. Unfortunately the fair was closed all of Saturday due to bad weather so we didn’t manage to see everything we wanted to, but did get a few photos the night before.
25th July 2015
The final funfair of our summer Eurotrip was Duren Annakirmes. Notable attractions include the new Apres Ski XXL and Wild Maus XXL (the one that comes to London every winter)
26th July 2015
Knowing that we had approximately 3 hours to spare before our plane home we stopped off at BillyBird Park (Netherlands). This is a strange inland-beach style attraction aimed at families and young children. The star attraction is an ABC Rides solar powered rollercoaster, which was actually surprisingly fun.
And that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoy the photos and/or videos. More videos are yet to come so be sure to check back for further updates. If you have any questions about our trips and how we do them then leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.
If you’re reading this then chances are that you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie. Ask any theme park or ride geek and they’ll be able to tell you – probably in graphic detail – all about their first experience of a big ride. There’s something quite special about that feeling of terror as the adrenaline races through your body, but unfortunately that feeling does seem to fade over the years as you become “immune” to fear through experiencing so many rides.
So what can we do to scare ourselves?! Well – we head over to Wales for an action packed day of ziplining, swinging, climbing and jumping to see if we could get our adrenaline racing once more.
The day consisted of the following activities:
All in all the cost of the activities totalled just under £150 per person – so it’s not cheap – but we thought it was worth it just to be able to try something a bit different.
Now, I don’t know if it’s just because we’re so used to coasters or not, but none of the 5 ziplines we did really phased us that much. There was a very strong focus on health and safety (as you’d hope), meaning that a lot of potential psychological fear of falling to your death is instantly eliminated. Zipworld titan has three medium sized ziplines, each of which having four “lanes” so that you can race your friends down to the bottom. The scenery and landscape underneath you was truly beautiful on these zips, and varied muchly between the three lines. Nothing too scary at all really, but very enjoyable. Zipworld Velocity is probably the scarier of the two attractions, as it features Europe’s longest and fastest Zipline, for which the riders are hung in a lying position for maximum aerodynamic-ness. You’re provided with safety goggles, which at first seems quite humorous, but you quickly realise how important they are when being pelted in the face by flies and other bits of flying shit at 100mph. This is the most expensive individual activity, coming in at around £60 per person just for the two ziplines. Worth it? Yes and no. We’re glad we did it, but wouldn’t rush to do it again.
The Powerfan Plummet and SkySwing are both located at the same place – Treetop Adventure – not far from either of the ziplining attractions mentioned above. This is where things got scary. The PowerFan Plummet was almost certainly the highlight of the day. To put it simply, it’s a massive tree (106ft tall infact), with a few metal pegs hammered in and a platform built at the top. After being harnessed up you take to the tree and use the metal pegs to climb your way to the top. This is a terrifying, gruelling experience. After what feels like 5 hours, you accidentally look down and let out a small fart of terror as you realise how high you are. Following this you look up and let out another fart of terror as you realise that you’re still only quater of the way up and there’s no easy way to chicken out now! Eventually you do get to the top (in reality the climb is probably about 5 minutes long), and you get some time to pull yourself together and man up before being clipped to a rope that in theory will prevent your death as you jump off the top.
Whilst this was easily the most terrifying thing we can remember doing in a very long time, it was well worth it. The freefall sensation alone when jumping off is incredible. The SkySwing is basically just a huge swing – you get strapped onto a metal bar (it’s not comfy at all – wave byebye to fertility) – and winched up to the highest point. When you get to the top you pull the release chord yourself and begin the swing. Great fun, pretty scary, worth doing.
Both of these activities combined cost around £30, so definitely the best value for money all day and quite possibly the best activity all day.
The final activity to round off the day was Bounce Below. Located at the same site as Zipworld Titan, Bounce Below is a network of “trampolines” inside a cave. We say “trampolines”, but in reality it’s a series of bouncy nets on three different levels connected by slides and webbing to climb. Really good fun, but an injury waiting to happen.
And that’s that! If you’ve read this entire article then chances are you’re interested in doing the activities too – if you do have any questions then please comment and we’ll get back to you. Below is our video of the entire day condensed into just a few minutes – please do watch and leave us a comment!
Oh – one more thing! They actually let us, and encourage, the use of GoPro cameras. They even provide helmets with GoPro mounts if you ask them for one. As theme park fans we’re not used to such loving treatment! On that basis – this entire day gets a big FIVE out of FIVE fictional stars. Well done Wales, you were fun.
For some reason, the UK is scared of getting wood. Why exactly? We don’t know, however we do suspect it has something to do with the fact that for most people their only point of reference to allow them to form an opinion are the old rickety things at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Whilst they may seem like great rides to enthusiasts, the general public do seem to assosiate the Blackpool woodies with pain or danger. For this reason it seems that UK parks see wooden coasters as a risky investment – but this could be about to change.
Europe already houses a selection of the world’s finest woodies – ranging from Troy at Toverland to Balder at Liseberg. Whilst it is easier than you might think to fly out to these parks, it’s a timely and often costly exercise. So when Tayto Park in Ireland announced that they were building a huge wooden coaster for the 2015 season we got very excited.
The ride, named the Cú Chulainn Coaster, has been manufactured by the Gravity Group, the company behind the famous “Voyage” ride at Holiday World and features the new Timberliner trains (which, unlike standard wooden coaster cars, have wheel assemblies that can steer and provide a smoother ride). Over 800,000kg of yellow pine was used in the construction, 100 tonnes of steel and over 700,000 bolts – producing a ride with a 32 meter drop and a track length of 1082 metres. All very impressive statistics, but what we really wanted to know is how does it ride?!
Luckily we didn’t have to wait long to find out. Being members of the European Coaster Club, we received an invitation to visit the park on Thursday 4th June 2015 for the Media Launch of the ride, ahead of it’s offical opening on Friday 5th. A quick visit online and we’d booked our flights, £10 each way with Ryanair – it really is that simple. After what seemed like the shortest flight in the history of the world and a 15 minute drive in a hire car we arrived at the park and were faced with an incredible view of the new coaster.
To be totally honest, we were a bit skeptical that the ride would be any good. In photos it does appear as though it’s a fairly plain layout without much emphasis on airtime or twists. What we didn’t expect was to be proven so wrong. The Cú Chulainn Coaster is awesome.
Right from the moment we entered the queueline there was something magical about it, perhaps hightened by the fact that the wood was so new that anything you touched caused a storm of sawdust to appear. Everything looked so fresh and new, even down to the shiny red trains. Speaking of the trains, they’re strange little things! They almost look like they’re made out of Meccano, and at first feel as though the lapbars are going to pin you in too much and ruin the airtime. Again, we were proven wrong on this!
So, after taking your seat in the 24-seater train and being locked in with a lapbar that swings down from the side of the car, the train begins to climb the lift hill. The first drop is amazing, very steep and smooth without that jarring feeling a lot of woodies have at the bottom of a drop as the train’s wheels slam back down onto the track. The drop leads into a tunnel with a hidden airtime hill, which at the speed you’re going gives substansial ejector airtime and sets the tone for the rest of the ride. In pictures it may look like the track is just a giant figure 8 but you’d be wrong to assume that. This coaster has so many unique and exciting moments packed into it, and lots of airtime.
The inversion? What Inversion? There was a lot of talk about the Cú Chulainn Coaster having an inversion, with some sources even claiming the whole ride was “inverted”. Unfortunately this was just a bit of a marketting tool, the ride doesn’t actually feature any inversions but does have an overbanked turn. To be honest, this turn was probably the only disappointing part of the ride, as it was a little rough and “shunty”. Don’t get me wrong we enjoy a good shunt but it did disturb the McDonald’s breakfasts that were still digesting in our bellies. We were led to believe that this roughness was being worked on and that the overbanked turn shunt should hopefully be a thing of the past soon – there was actually work being carried out on it after our preview session ended.
The ride was due to open the next day, Friday 5th June, but in the end didn’t actually open until Saturday 6th – why exactly we don’t know, but it is assumed that it was to allow for finishing touches to be made to the ride.
Tayto Park’s new coaster is very very good. It’s smooth, it’s fast, it has lots of sudden changes of direction, airtime and it feels like a really long ride. Is it the best woodie we’ve ridden? No, but it comes close. Is it the best woodie within easy reach of the UK? Definitely. Fingers crossed that the ride is well received and that it nudges UK parks into considering wood themselves. Interestingly we did see management from Drayton Manor at the media day talking to the Gravity Group – take that as you will – but it’s promising.
The rest of the park is great! It’s small and attractions are currently quite limited, but it is clear the park is heading in the right direction. As well as the coaster, Tayto Park also opened eight other attractions this year including a Zamperla Air Race and “The Rotator” – a 360 looping swing ride. We strongly recommend that you visit and see the park for yourself. Really, it’s easier than you think to do in a day or as part of a weekend trip. We’ve plenty more to say but don’t want to ramble on too much, please do leave a comment with any questions.
“The Enchanted Village” is the latest accommodation offering from the Alton Towers Resort, complimenting the existing Splash Landings and Alton Towers Hotels. Opened on the 18th April 2015, the village consists of 120 lodges and 5 luxury treehouses.
We went down to the village for a walk around on a sunny afternoon. First impressions were very good. On entering the site the first building you see is the Crooked Spoon restaurant – also part of the development. This building is beautifully themed and features a soundtrack from IMA Score, who have become somewhat famous for their fantastic theme park soundtracks in the last few years.
Walking further in and you quickly become surrounded by the accommodation. The lodges are all laid out in clusters, with each cluster facing inwards towards a grassy patch with some kids play equipment in – promoting a cosy family feel. The area does feel very immersive to walk around, with plenty of little things to see and do. Step inside one of the lodges and this is what you can expect to find:
Each lodge comprises of a main room with double bed and TV, a small kids room with bunk beds in and a bathroom with bath/shower and toilet. The size is marginally larger than a standard hotel room, but to be honest any bigger and the cosy feel of the lodge could well be lost.
If, however, you really want a slice of luxury, then maybe a Treehouse is more suited. The Enchanted Village has five unique Luxury Treehouses which sleep up to eight people. These top-end lodges include their own private hot tubs, but do come at a cost of around £1000 per night.
Take a look at our video below to see the Enchanted Village for yourself!